VENUS — The Lady Bulldogs enter 2020 locked and loaded as Venus will aim to defend its District 17-4A title and build off last year’s 20-win season.

Venus went 10-0 in district play last season to win their first-ever district championship in softball, and they did so in perfect fashion.

Venus brings back seven lettermen off last year’s 20-4 team that lost in the area round. Five of those seven returners include full-time starters in senior third baseman Alexis Jasso, senior outfielder Paige Loewen, junior catcher Natalie Lopez, junior pitcher Kaylee Davis, and junior outfielder Shyann Lewis.

Davis was one of the state’s top players no matter classification as she boasted a 1.33 ERA with 316 strikeouts in the circle while also dominating offensively with a .549 batting average with 41 RBIs. Davis was the 2019 All-Johnson County co-MVP and all-district MVP.

Along with Davis in the circle, Lopez helped form one of the more productive batteries in Class 4A as Lopez was the all-district catcher of the year as she hit .400 on the season with 17 RBIs.

Having seven returners back will help the Lady Bulldogs offset the losses of key players such as Nayda Rodriguez and Peyton Willey.

“Going into the 2020 season, our team’s strength is our experience,” Venus Coach Dayberly Spray said. “Our focus this year is one game at a time and enjoying our time we have on the field together. I am huge on enjoying the high school years because the girls can never get those years back.”

A trio of sophomores in outfielder Jade Loewen and utility players Mariah Martinez and Aliyah Hernandez will look to make contributions in their first year at the varsity level.

With such proven talent back for another year, expectations are high for Venus, but Spray said she wants her players to focus on the process and moment as much as anything else.

“My overall expectation for us has not changed from any other year,” she said. “I always expect my girls to give their best every day we step on the field. I want the girls to enjoy every day they get to play softball because one day it will all be over. I want the girls to leave me knowing they gave their all, and I hope they made many memories playing softball for Venus High School. I want them to be proud they are a Venus Bulldog.”

Venus is scheduled to open the 2020 season at 5 p.m. Tuesday vs. Rains.

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